INSIDE THE ALAMO

Murphy tells of “a time when our nation was young and raw and only beginning to take on the shape and character we know today.” Texas was a foreign country in 1836, a state controlled by Mexico. Anglo foreigners were receiving 4,428 acres of land for 30 dollars and could live on it tax free for ten years. Slavery was forbidden and newcomers had to join the Catholic Church and become citizens of Mexico. As thousands of Americans arrived, General Santa Anna came to see them as invaders rather than as settlers and sought to stop their immigration, setting into motion the Texas War for Independence. The story focuses on the Alamo’s famous role as Texas rebels fought for independence and carries on through the later victory of Sam Houston’s forces. Eventually, Mexico lost 40 percent of its territory to the US. This is history writing at its finest—lively prose, sidebars, profiles of key players, an abundance of archival photographs, engravings, paintings, and maps, and an N.C. Wyeth painting gracing the cover. Readers learn something of the thrill of history: what questions led to the research, what questions remain, what voices can be brought to life to tell the tale. Though an archival land-grant map is included, a map more clearly delineating the boundaries of Mexico, Texas, and the US at the time would be helpful. No footnotes are included, but the author’s note and annotated bibliography are excellent and will serve researchers well. Essential for library collections and a good bet for the classroom. (index, list of those inside) (Nonfiction. 10+)

Pub Date: March 11, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-32574-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2003

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A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history.

ON THE HORIZON

In spare verse, Lowry reflects on moments in her childhood, including the bombings of Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. 

When she was a child, Lowry played at Waikiki Beach with her grandmother while her father filmed. In the old home movie, the USS Arizona appears through the mist on the horizon. Looking back at her childhood in Hawaii and then Japan, Lowry reflects on the bombings that began and ended a war and how they affected and connected everyone involved. In Part 1, she shares the lives and actions of sailors at Pearl Harbor. Part 2 is stories of civilians in Hiroshima affected by the bombing. Part 3 presents her own experience as an American in Japan shortly after the war ended. The poems bring the haunting human scale of war to the forefront, like the Christmas cards a sailor sent days before he died or the 4-year-old who was buried with his red tricycle after Hiroshima. All the personal stories—of sailors, civilians, and Lowry herself—are grounding. There is heartbreak and hope, reminding readers to reflect on the past to create a more peaceful future. Lowry uses a variety of poetry styles, identifying some, such as triolet and haiku. Pak’s graphite illustrations are like still shots of history, adding to the emotion and somber feeling. He includes some sailors of color among the mostly white U.S. forces; Lowry is white.

A beautiful, powerful reflection on a tragic history. (author’s note, bibliography) (Memoir/poetry. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-12940-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have...

SHE DID IT!

21 WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WAY WE THINK

Caldecott Medalist McCully delves into the lives of extraordinary American women.

Beginning with the subject of her earlier biography Ida M. Tarbell (2014), McCully uses a chronological (by birth year) structure to organize her diverse array of subjects, each of whom is allotted approximately 10 pages. Lovely design enhances the text with a full-color portrait of each woman and small additional illustrations in the author/illustrator’s traditional style, plenty of white space, and spare use of dynamic colors. This survey provides greater depth than most, but even so, some topics go troublingly uncontextualized to the point of reinforcing stereotype: “In slavery, Black women had been punished for trying to improve their appearance. Now that they were free, many cared a great deal about grooming”; “President Roosevelt ordered all Japanese Americans on the West Coast to report to internment camps to keep them from providing aid to the enemy Japanese forces.” Of the 21 surveyed, one Japanese-American woman (Patsy Mink) is highlighted, as are one Latinx woman (Dolores Huerta), one Mohegan woman (Gladys Tantaquidgeon), three black women (Madam C.J. Walker, Ella Baker, and Shirley Chisholm), four out queer white women (Billie Jean King, Barbara Gittings, Jane Addams, and Isadora Duncan; the latter two’s sexualities are not discussed), two Jewish women (Gertrude Berg and Vera Rubin), and three women with known disabilities (Addams, Dorothea Lange, and Temple Grandin).

Despite its not insignificant flaws, this book provides insights into the lives of important women, many of whom have otherwise yet to be featured in nonfiction for young readers. (sources) (Collective biography. 10-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-01991-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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